films seen
average score
Japan - 57 years old
Alive and kicking
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Tales from Earthsea

Gedo Senki
2006 / 115m - Japan
Adventure, Fantasy - Animation
Tales from Earthsea poster

A film that has been fighting an uphill battle since the day it was announced. Directed by Goro Miyazaki, son of legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki, expectations for this were completely unrealistic from the get-go. And yet, I've always liked the film, in part because of the way it set itself apart from his father's work, and other Ghibli films. Goro did find his own voice, rather than trying to mimic what people have come to expect under the Miyazaki name. The result is a darker, more mysterious fantasy film set in a world that is left for the viewer to be explored and is supported by Ghibli's quality animation, a lovely score, and tremendous voice work. This holds up very well on rewatch.

From up on Poppy Hill

Kokuriko-zaka Kara
2011 / 91m - Japan
Drama - Animation
From up on Poppy Hill poster

Earwig and the Witch

Âya to Majo
2020 / 82m - Japan
Fantasy - Animation
Earwig and the Witch poster

Not quite as bad as its reputation suggests, just don't go in expecting a typical Ghibli production. The switch to 3D CG is quite brutal and Goro Miyazaki's choice to go for a more stylized art style is sure to upset people who are used to the realism of its American counterparts. Even so, at its very core this film still houses the classic Ghibli magic.

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Earwig is a young girl who lives an easy life at the orphanage. Her life takes a sudden turn when an odd couple comes to collect her. The woman is a witch who needs a pair of extra hands around the house, Earwig becomes her apprentice, though she feels more like a slave. For the first time in her life, she can't force her will onto others.

The different levels of visual fidelity can be a bit jarring in the beginning, but the art style did grow on me. And while it never comes close to the classic Ghibli films, it's really not that ugly. The lack of annoying sidekicks, dreadful jokes and ADD pacing is what makes this easier to stomach than its American peers, some nifty characters (like Mandrake) turns this into a respectable, but ultimately somewhat mediocre Ghibli production. Not terrible, but that's an extremely low bar for one of the best animation houses in the world.